WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING AN ASTRONAUT?
Who can apply? Persons residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad can apply. Preference will be given to Canadian citizens.
In which language/s do they need to be proficient? Either French or English. Proficiency in both official languages of Canada is an asset but not a requirement. However, Canadian Space Agency astronauts are based at NASA in Houston, Texas, where the working language is English. Moreover, the two official languages aboard the International Space Station are English and Russian.
Which university degree do they need? Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university in engineering or science (eg: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, mathematics, computer science) or a doctorate in medicine or dentistry.
How many years of professional experience should they have? Candidates must have at least three years of relevant professional experience OR be licenced to practise medicine in Canada. A master’s degree is equivalent to one year of professional experience, and a doctorate is equivalent to three years of professional experience.
Which qualities and skills are required? Motivation, resourcefulness and teamwork are all important qualities required to be part of the CSA’s astronaut corps. Judgment, integrity, reasoning, public speaking and the ability to synthesize and communicate using plain language are also necessary.
Is there a required height? The Soyuz capsule used to go to the International Space Station is limited in size. To be safe inside the capsule, the astronaut must measure between 149.5 cm and 190.5 cm (4’9” and 6’2.5”). This might change in the future.
Is there a required weight? Again, the Soyuz capsule used to go to the International Space Station is limited in size, so the astronaut must weigh between 50 kg and 95 kg (110 lb. and 209 lb.) to be safe inside the capsule. This might change in the future.
What about visual acuity? To be considered, applicants must meet very stringent medical requirements and be in excellent health. Applicants must score 20/20 (6/6) or better in each eye, with or without correction. Applicants who have undergone refractive laser surgery (PRK or LASIK) are eligible, but the Canadian Space Agency does not recommend that applicants undergo refractive laser surgery for the sole purpose of applying for employment as an astronaut. Is there an age requirement? There is no official age requirement. The applicants chosen in 2009 by the Canadian Space Agency were 33 and 39 years old when they were selected. The applicants chosen by NASA in 2013 were between ages 26 and 46. How many astronauts will be selected during the Canadian Space Agency’s 2016–2017 recruitment campaign? Two individuals will be selected as new members of the Canadian astronaut corps in the 2016–2017 recruitment campaign. The CSA is recruiting exceptional people with excellent health; a university education in science, engineering or medicine; and extensive knowledge and experience.
Launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on Mission STS-85 at 10:41 a.m. EDT on August 7, 1997, with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason aboard. (Credit: NASA)